Metal clay is a crafting medium consisting of very small particles of metal such as silver, gold, bronze, or copper mixed with an organic binder and water for use in making jewelry, beads and small sculptures. Originating in Japan in 1990, metal clay can be shaped just like any soft clay, by hand or using molds, textures and templates.
There are several types of metal clay available: fine silver, silver alloy, gold, gold alloy, copper, bronze and steel. Each type of metal clay has unique firing requirements because each metal has a different melting point.
For the beginner, fine silver clay is the easiest and quickest way to experience metal clay because there are so many options for firing, including low cost hand held butane torches. All types of metal clay are optimally fired in a jewelry kiln and some require special firing methods. The overview below will give you the basics on the different types of metal clay and their firing requirements to help you decide which clay to begin your adventures with.
No matter what type of metal clay you want to work with, there are some basic tools that are needed. You'll need tools for handling metal clay while it's moist, for refining and constructing the clay after it's dry, and for finishing the metal once it's been fired.
You can get a quick start with a kit that has many of the basics you need. Check out our "Kits" section in the menu section. You can also learn about the stages of metal clay work and the tool options available to customize a tool kit on your own. If you are not sure what type of metal clay you want to work with, Metal Clay Types and Usage offers an excellent summary and will give you a quick understanding of what each type of metal clay can be used for and all of the possible firing options.
Metal Clay Types
Metal clay is available in a several different kinds of metals. Each kind has slightly different working properties and firing schedules.
There are several different firing methods for firing or "sintering" the clay, so notice the firing options for each to type of clay. You may make your firing method choice based on the clay, or you may choose your clay based on your firing method. For instance, if you plan to fire metal clay with a hand held butane torch, you could work with certain types of copper clays and fine silver clays. If you fire in a digitally controlled jewelry kiln, you can use any kind of metal clay.
We also recommend taking a class with a local teacher that will help you create a piece from start to finish. These teachers have a world of knowledge and you will also meet others that share your interest.
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Essential Wet Clay Tools
Our Clay Rolling Frames make rolling metal and polymer clay to precise thicknesses easy! No dirty playing cards to bump into your work. Each Rolling Frame is numbered to correspond to the number of cards in thickness each represents. Clay Rolling Frames offer a working area big enough for the most adventurous project. Outside dimensions are 4" x 7" and work perfectly with our 6"x9" Clayboard Non-Stick Rolling Surface. Buy each Rolling Frame individually or save when you purchase in a set. We've included the Ultimate Non-Stick Roller in a 7" length for the best kit value. Clay Rolling Frames are available in 2, 3, 4, 5 6, & 8 card thicknesses. Stack to make just about any thickness of slab you need.
Create a smooth clean workable anti-stick surface with CoolSlip. Simply apply a spritz of our amazing CoolSlip on most any surface to release metal clay easily. CoolClip provides a crisp, sharp impression eliminating the usual gunk you get when using oils or balms. CoolSlip can be sprayed or brushed on. CoolSlip is the best anti-stick solution you can use when working with Metal Clay.
Claymate is an exclusive Cool Tools product. This all natural hand conditioner was created to make hands and fingers clay-proof. A small dab of creamy ClayMate worked thoroughly into palms and fingers forms a barrier that keeps metal clay from sticking. A choice high above oils or balms. Claymate works like magic, it's non-greasy, and makes your hands feel silky smooth.
A Ball Burnisher or “divit” tool is a very important tool to use while working with Metal Clay. This simple tool will be one of your most handy and well loved tools in your jewelers tool box. Ball Burnishers are essential for adding design, making settings for small stones, marking for drilling, burnishing and adding freeform textures. Make sure you aren't without a divit tool when working with Wet Metal Clay.
When working with wet clay, a good quality paintbrush is a must. Cool Tools offers superior brushes made with excellent textured fine bristles for smooth application of water or paste. Find a good sized brush at an affordable price right here at Cool Tools. A quality brush makes all the difference when working with Wet Metal Clay.
Flexible stainless steel blades will last and last if you treat them right. Wipe with CoolSlip to keep metal clay from sticking and after use to keep sharp. Blade measures 6in in length.
Set of 4 blades: 1 wavy cut, 1 ric-rac, 1 extra flexible and 1 stiff blade plus comfort handles for ease of use. Wipe with CoolSlip to keep metal clay from sticking and after use to keep sharp.
Tweezers are an unbelievably essential tool when working with wet metal clay. Whether you are setting a stone, holding parts for patina dip or any other jewelry making step, well crafted tweezers are needed. Cool Tools offers a great variety of Tweezers from small to large sizes, you can never have enough tweezers. Ensure that you have a strong secure hold and great maneuverability with quality crafted jewelry Tweezers.
An amazing essential Wet Clay Tool is the Ultra Clay Pick. Fixed with an extremely fine tip that cuts through clay like a laser, the Ultra Clay Pick is perfect for working with templates. The Ultra Clay Pick is the best tool to use for cutting out clay shapes. Using this precision cutting tool will make working with Wet Clay easier than you thought possible.
Need a functional, non-stick, sturdy surface to work on? Try out a Clayboard and Tuff Cards. Tuff cards and Clayboards can be put in the oven, on a hotplate or in the dehydrator and will support a lot of weight. Tuff Cards were Designed by Cool Tools to simplify the process of transferring Wet Metal Clay. These small teflon coated work surfaces are the same size and thickness of playing cards. Discover an easier way to create with handy work surfaces from Cool Tools.